Ligue 1 will reportedly stage a four-team tournament at D.C. United‘s Audi Field this summer, bringing a notable event to the venue.
Audi Field is in the midst of its first full season of MLS action, as it opened for United last July. Since its opening, the club has worked to attract events outside of MLS matches, and it appears that will extend to a four-team showcase for Ligue 1, the French professional circuit.
The four clubs set to play in the July preseason tournament, as first confirmed by the French sports publication L’Equipe, are Olympique Marseille–which will also face United in a friendly–Saint-Etienne, Montpellier, and Bordeaux. As planned, the tournament will not only put Ligue 1 on prominent display in the United States but also bring another event to Audi Field and kick off what is expected to be a multi-year commitment. More from the Washington Post:
…The semifinals will be played July 18 and a third-place match and championship game three days later.
The Marseille-D.C. match is slated for July 24 — a midweek test between MLS games at Atlanta and Chicago — and serve as the second of three United friendlies against foreign clubs. Spain’s Real Betis will visit Audi Field on Wednesday and a Latin American team, probably Mexican, will come in September.
United will, for the most part, field secondary lineups.
Seeking to make inroads in the U.S. market, French league officials negotiated the deal and will essentially pay rent to use Audi Field, the 20,000-seat venue that opened last summer. The pact is for three years, though both sides may exercise an opt-out clause if the tournament falls short of expectations.
Filling stadiums for events outside the 17 MLS regular-season home matches in the current schedule is something that many clubs prioritize. In D.C. United’s case, this has included landing tournaments, friendlies, and sports outside soccer, as Audi Field is set to become home to a Washington-based team in the XFL when it launches next spring. Such events not only make Audi Field operational for more dates out of the year, but bring activity to an area of D.C. that has seen plenty of development in recent years and is expected to have more amenities on the way.